Royal Mint begins new bullion coin program
- Published: Apr 1, 2016, 7 AM
The Royal Mint’s newest bullion coin is a real beast.
The Royal Mint on March 29 unveiled a new series of gold and silver bullion coins depicting “The Queen’s Beasts,” a series of 10 creatures that appear on statues and that have featured in British royal heraldry throughout hundreds of years. The series will be introduced one “beast” at a time, starting with the gallant Lion of England, by British coin designer Jody Clark. The coin also bears Queen Elizabeth II’s fifth portrait, also by Clark.
Head of bullion sales for the Royal Mint, Nick Bowkett, said, in a press release: “The introduction of The Queen’s Beasts series brings an exciting new series of bullion coins to investors around the globe.”
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The program offers the designs in three versions, quarter-ounce and 1-ounce gold coins, and, for the first time ever, a 2-ounce .9999 fine silver coin.
The new coins take their place in the Royal Mint’s bullion range alongside the flagship gold sovereign and gold and silver Britannia bullion coins, as well as the Royal Mint Refinery range of gold and silver bars.
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The silver coin is denominated £5, the quarter-ounce gold coin is denominated £25, and the 1-ounce gold coin bears a £100 denomination. All are .9999 fine and sport a bullion finish.
About the designs
Inspiration for this series has been taken from The Queen’s Beasts sculptures, each standing at about two meters (6 feet, 7 inches) tall, originally created by James Woodford for the coronation ceremony of Queen Elizabeth II, held in Westminster Abbey in 1953.
The heraldic creatures symbolized the various strands of royal ancestry brought together in a young woman about to be crowned queen. Each beast, used as a heraldic badge by generations that went before her, was inspired by the King’s Beasts of Henry VIII that still line the bridge over the moat at his Hampton Court Palace. Today, The Queen’s Beasts can be found at the Canadian Museum of History in Quebec, while Portland stone replicas, also carved by Woodford, watch over Kew Gardens in the United Kingdom.
The Lion of England
The Lion of England is the first of the beasts to be introduced for this new bullion coin series.
The Royal Arms are the arms of the monarch, an ancient device that represents the sovereign. For the arms that represent Queen Elizabeth II and the United Kingdom, two beasts are shown supporting a quartered shield, the Scottish Unicorn and the English Lion.
The crowned golden Lion of England has been a supporter of the Royal Arms since King James I came to the throne in 1603, but the symbol of a lion has stood for England for far longer. Richard the Lion-heart, son of King Henry II, is famed for his three golden lions as the Royal Arms of England, and since the 12th century, lions have appeared on the coat of arms of every British sovereign.
Designer Jody Clark
Jody Clark is a member of the Royal Mint’s team of graphic designers and engravers.
Clark has worked on notable projects such as the medals struck to celebrate the 2014 Ryder Cup and Nato Summit, whilst his contemporary interpretation of the iconic Britannia was chosen for the celebrated coin’s 2014 collection.
Clark is best known for creating the latest definitive coinage portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, released on United Kingdom coins in 2015.
In turning his talents to the reverse designs for The Queen’s Beasts bullion coins, Clark said in a press release that the original versions in Canada and the replicas in Kew Gardens “are very stylized and look imposing as statues, but the challenge was to capture this on the surface of a coin. I researched the origins of heraldry and coats of arms, and wanted to replicate the sense of strength and courage they were designed to convey. I created a sense of movement to make the beasts bold and dynamic, but the shields they guard still feature strongly as they are integral to the story.”
He continued: “The lion in my design takes a rampant stance, the most fierce. I researched imagery of lions in the wild to make sure that mine had a true likeness to the creature’s character, but I was careful that it wasn’t too realistic. In this context the lion is a ‘beast’ and I wanted it to feel fantastical, so when it came to areas like the eyes I kept them blank. Adding too much detail softened the look and I think this way there is still a sense of sculpture reflecting the originals.”
The silver coin weighs 62.42 grams and measures 38.61 millimeters in diameter. It is available singly or in 10-coin tubes.
The gold £25 coin weighs 7.8 grams and measures 22 millimeters in diameter. It is available singly or in 25-coin tubes.
The Queen’s Beasts bullion coins will be exclusively available in the United Kingdom from the Royal Mint's bullion website.
The Queen’s Beasts bullion coins are also available for purchase via the Royal Mint’s global wholesale distributor A-Mark.
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